Hot Hatch of the Year 2022: Hyundai i20 N

The Hyundai i20 N is the 2022 Auto Express Hot Hatch of the Year, with the Ford Fiesta ST and Mercedes-AMG A 45 commended

Hyundai’s N department might be a relative newcomer to the hot-hatch fraternity, but its first offering, the i30 N, showed a huge amount of promise. The smaller i20 N has built on that to become our Hot Hatch of the Year.

The standard i20 is a great base for a more purposeful machine and it makes a great first impression. The uprated suspension that lowers the ride height, 18-inch alloy wheels and WRC-inspired, roof-mounted rear wing all contribute to a package that looks menacing without going over the top.

But it’s the driving experience that matters most for any performance car, and here the Hyundai really delivers – with what’s under the bonnet taking part of the credit here. The 201bhp 1.6 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds – just pipping that of the i20 N’s closest rivals – and thanks to its angry character and linear power delivery, it proves that the excitement is about more than just the numbers on their own.

The chassis only hits that point home harder. Through the turns along our favourite roads, the N wowed us with its positive front end and a steering set-up that delivers a keen turn-in to corners, while the rear end clings on gamely with just enough adjustability to keep things reassuring yet hugely entertaining at the same time. Few cars – at any price – are able to deliver quite so many grins.

Price also plays a part in the Hyundai’s overall victory. At £25,250, it undercuts its key rivals while delivering more standard equipment. It then manages to carry over all the qualities from the regular i20, like a roomy cabin, big boot, slick infotainment set-up and long warranty, all of which only cements its position as our Hot Hatch of the Year for the second year running.

Our choice

Hyundai i20 N (£25,250)

There’s just one version of the i20 N on offer – and in fact, the only scope buyers have to customise their purchase comes from the exterior colour they’d like it painted. Put down £2,500 up front on a three-year PCP deal, and you’ll be facing a bill of £431 per month for the duration. No matter how you look at it, that’s a huge amount of fun for the money.

Commended

Ford Fiesta ST

With our pure driver’s hat on, we’d argue that the recently updated Ford Fiesta ST is ever so slightly more pointy, lairy and exciting to drive than even the brilliant i20 N. Few cars at any price will be able to make you smile like this particular pocket rocket. Ultimately, the Fiesta loses out because it can’t quite match the Hyundai’s value for money or practicality, yet it’s still a truly legendary hot hatch.

Mercedes-AMG A 45

If you want to move a body from one point to another in the quickest time possible, the Mercedes-AMG A 45 will do it faster than pretty much anything this side of a particle accelerator. But what we really love about this Mercedes is the level of finesse that goes with that sheer speed; here is a 415bhp hot hatch that has feel, adjustability and balance. It’s utterly brilliant.

The 2022 New Car Awards are brought to you in association with Hankook tyres

New Car Awards 2022: the winners

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